Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You Are This Perfect - Story Behind the Song


The Nord Lead sprouted this song - a rhythmic pattern of smooth, round tones. I recorded a couple of passes just lost in its world, in the key of F. Months later, I came back to it, excited to put the headphones on, sit in front of the mic and see what images came.

Set - bus full of students in France, the end of a semester-long trip to Europe, 6am. I look into a quiet pink sunrise and see a plane flying over fields - and then, bloop, bloop, bloop, para-troopers silently pop out of the plane and float down.

This scene came strongly to my mind as I listened to the music, and then it was as though I was one of them - a dad, a plain ol' guy, in a war, jumping out of a plane, there because he had to be, noticing a sunrise, thinking of his family, his child. The world still turning, sun still rising, normally, whatever the humans had cooked up, whatever dangers and sadnesses, the dawn still beautiful, the dew still touching fields, the clouds still beautiful with sunrise. In my mind's eye, this dad was waiting in line, singing in his heart to his boy before he flies.

My husband's grandfather was shot in the air in WWII, his daughter in her mama's belly, never to meet him. I thought of her as I sang this song, of this man, a dear man, fighting in this big war, who'd rather be home. It brought tears as the song came out.

I recorded it in Portland, pregnant, and couldn't get through the vocals without breaking down. John Askew, recording, was so kind and patient, letting me cry, thinking of ways to get through the song, to be in that space and still sing. I stayed where I was, and with a powerful mic, let the notes and words come out in a whisper, in that sadness and love.

A few months later I would be singing it to my boy, my sweet son, Otto. It seemed that all along it was written for him, for us. In the end, it was me, the parent, who would stay and my boy who would be the one moving into the next world. But me falling into land-mines just the same. Otto left us at dawn, and it was peaceful and sacred, just like the song. It is his song now. And I love getting to sing it to him with love and softness, a moment between us, wherever he is now, that tenderness will always be with me.

My baby boy
Drifting on the world I
Think of you as I
Fall into landmines

Baby boy
I think of your soft hair
I'm floating through morning
To touch on the fields

You are this perfect
The morning sun shines on the dew
Of the flowers

It's just a morning
It's just a sunrise
If it is my last one
I would have you close to me.


Grand Hallway said...

what a beautiful song. your singing on this is so, so gorgeously delicate and honest. it's an incredibly courageous performance, i think. thank you for sharing the story.

Frank said...

what a beautiful story for such a beautiful song. what else would i expect from such a beautiful person. xx

Tracy said...

I just heard you on KCRW and thought your music so beautiful and when it came to this song I was moved to tears. I wanted to share with you a beautiful board.


There is something there for you. Loving and tender people there...who will so understand you and you wonderful music.

Good luck on your birth..it will all be good. hugs